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Full text of "My Country And My People"

36       MY COUNTRY AND MY PEOPLE

This is typical of the sentiment in Chinese literature.  This
rural ideal of Cheng Panch'iao's is as much based on his
poetic feeling of common brotherhood with the poor peasant,
which comes natural to a Taoistic soul, as the rural ideal of
Tseng Kuofan's is based on the desire for the preservation for
the family, and closely connected with the Confucian family
system.  For the rural ideal of life is part of the social system
which makes the family the unit and part of the politico-cultural
system which makes lie village the unit. It may be amusing to
learn that Tseng Kuofan, the great general and first minister of
his times, in his family letters to his children and nephews con-
tinually warned them against extravagant habits and advised
them to plant vegetables, rear pigs and manure their own
farms, yet such advice on frugality and industry was expressly
given with the aim that the family prosperity might be prolonged.
If simplicity can keep a family integrity long, it should do the
same for the national integrity.  For to Tseng Kuofan, it was
plain that "the official families whose children learn expensive
habits of living, prosper only for a generation or two: the
merchant families who are industrious and frugal may prosper
for three or four generations, the families who till the ground
and study books and have simple and careful habits prosper
for five or six generations, while the families who have the
virtues of filial piety and friendliness prosper for eight or ten
generations."

It is therefore entirely easy to understand why Tseng regards
"the keeping offish, the keeping of pigs, the planting of bam-
boos and the planting of vegetables*9 as "the four things which
should not be neglected. On the one hand, we may thus keep
up the tradition of our forefathers, and, on the other hand, one
will feel a sense of life and growth when looking in over our
walls, and a sense of prosperity when entering our court.
Even if you should have to spend a little more money and hire
a few more helpers, the money spent on these four things will
be well spent. . . . From these four things, you can see whether
a family is prospering or is going down."

And somehow from the family instructions of Yen Chiht'ui
(53i-59*)> Fan Chungyen (989-1052), Chu Hsi (1130-1300),
down to those of Ch'en Hungmu (1696-1771) and Tseng